Pekka Rinne

NHL Scores
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The Buzzer: Pastrnak’s third hat trick; Big games for DeAngelo, Rinne

Three Stars

1. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators. An incredible night for Rinne as he stopped 29 shots against the Chicago Blackhawks then scored the first goal of his career. What a way for new coach John Hynes to get his first win with the team. Rinne is just the 12th different goalie in NHL history to score a goal during a game. Read more about it here.

2. Tony DeAngelo, New York Rangers. He continued his breakout season with one of the most productive individual performances by a defenseman in NHL history. He finished with three goals, two assists, seven shots on goal, was a plus-3, and was on the ice for all six of the Rangers’ goals in a 6-3 win over their top rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Read all about his game and just how rare it is right here.

3. David Pastrnak Boston Bruins. The Pastrnak show continues to roll on in Boston. He recorded his third hat trick of the season (and his seventh since the start of the 2018-19 season) to open up a four-goal lead over Auston Matthews in the race for the Rocket Richard Award. He already has 35 goals in his first 45 games this season and is just three goals away from his career high which he set a year ago (in only 66 games). Since the start of the 2018-19 season he has 73 goals in 111 regular season games. That is a 54-goal pace over 82 games. He is currently on pace for 64 goals this season. If he can maintain that it would be the most since Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals during the 2007-08 season.

Other notable performances on Thursday

  • Nikita Kucherov scored two goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they extended their winning streak to nine games. Read more about it here.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Montreal Canadiens have now lost eight games in a row after giving up four consecutive goals to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Noel Acciari continued his stunning season in Florida with two more goals (he now has 17 in 41 games this season) in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Alexander Steen scored his first two goals of the season as the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues crushed the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 42 out of 43 shots and Johnny Gaudreau scored his 12th goal of the season to lead the Calgary Flames to a huge win over the Minnesota Wild.
  • Alec Martinez scored his first goal of the season and Jack Campbell stopped 44 out of 46 shots as the Los Angeles Kings stunned the Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Ben Bishop stopped all 27 shots he faced for the Dallas Stars as they shut out the Anaheim Ducks. They have now won six games in a row.
  • In their first game without injured forward Logan Couture the Sharks were able to pick up a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to goals from Kevin Labanc, Joe Thornton, and Brent Burns. The Blue Jackets have just two regulation losses over their past 16 games. Both of those losses have been against the Sharks.

Highlights of the Night

Of course we have to start with Pekka Rinne’s first career goal.

Look at this set-up by Jonathan Huberdeau as he fakes out the Canucks on this highlight reel play.

It did not get his team a win but Kyle Connor scores a beauty of a goal.

Blooper of the Night

Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins made this save lot more difficult than he needed to.

Factoids

  • Anze Kopitar recorded his 600th career assist for the Kings on Thursday night. [NHL PR]
  • With 60 points, Artemi Panarin has more points through the first 43 games of a season than any Rangers player in franchise history, topping the mark previously held by Wayne Gretzky. [NHL PR]
  • Connor McDavid reaches the 70 point mark in just his 46th game of the season for the second year in a row. It is the first time an NHL player has reached the 70-point mark in 46 games or fewer in consecutive seasons since Jaromir Jagr reached it for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons. [NHL PR]

Scores

Boston Bruins 5, Winnipeg Jets 4
Edmonton Oilers 4, Montreal Canadiens 2
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Arizona Coyotes 0
Florida Panthers 5, Vancouver Canucks 2
New York Rangers 6, New Jersey Devils 3
St. Louis Blues 5, Buffalo Sabres 1
Nashville Predators 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Calgary Flames 2, Minnesota Wild 1
Dallas Stars 3, Anaheim Ducks 0
Los Angeles Kings 5, Vegas Golden Knights 2
San Jose Sharks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 1

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Goalie goal! Rinne scores goal as Predators get first win for Hynes (Video)

If the Nashville Predators are going to turn their season around under new coach John Hynes they are going to need better play from their goalies. Pekka Rinne provided that on Thursday night in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks by not only stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced, but by also scoring the first goal of his career in the closing seconds.

That is correct, friends. We have a goalie goal!

Just after Nick Bonino scored an empty-net goal to give the Predators a two-goal lead, the Blackhawks pulled goaltender Corey Crawford for a second time in a desperate effort to get back in the game.

It gave Rinne the opportunity to do this.

Rinne’s rare company

With that, Rinne becomes the 12th different goalie in NHL history to be credited with a goal. He is the first since Mike Smith during the 2013-14 season. Rinne is just the seventh of those goalies to score their goal by actually shooting the puck in the net. The others were credited with goals by being the last player to touch the puck on an opponent’s own goal.

That was the perfect way to wrap up a huge win for the Predators.

The Predators needed this win

Not only is it their first win with Hynes behind the bench, but it is also two huge points in the standings as they try to make up ground in the playoff race. They now sit four points behind the Winnipeg Jets with two games in hand. Given those games in hand, as well as their consistently strong 5-on-5 play this season, there is definitely still a path to the postseason here.

They just need more performances like tonight from Rinne. Not necessarily the goal, but the way he helped slam the door shut in the third period.

After jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, the Predators had to hang on as the Blackhawks mounted a furious rally. Rinne stood tall, and they even got a clutch effort from their penalty kill in the final minutes when Chicago had a chance to tie the game.

Along with Rinne and Bonino, the Predators also received goals from Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene, and Colin Blackwelll. Blackwell’s goal is his first in the NHL.

Related: Predators name John Hynes head coach 

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Can Hynes succeed with Predators where Laviolette failed?

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The Nashville Predators actually did it. They fired Peter Laviolette, and then hired John Hynes in a dizzying span.

The dream is that Hynes can sculpt this lump of underachieving clay back into contending shape. How well do such imaginings line up with reality, though? Let’s consider the way things might or might not change for the Predators.

Good Cop/Bad Cop?

In sports, teams sometimes opt to rotate approaches. First, you hire a “yeller” to scream out the procrastinators. Then you soothe various wounds with a “player-friendly” coach … or vice versa.

The Predators might be aiming for such a dynamic.

While plenty (including Babcock-blasting Mike Commodore) showed fondness for Laviolette over the years, the word “intense” comes up over and over in describing the coach. The Tennessean’s Joe Rexrode summed up some of that intensity in a May 2017 column:

This is a man whose default setting is “cold glare” when he enters a room. A seemingly humorless man, a professional sourpuss, a coach who can detect bad intentions in the most harmless of questions.

When Hynes was fired, it was striking to see just how many people went out of their ways to support him. The praise ranged from players including Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier to former front office members.

Affixing Hynes with a white hat and Laviolette with a twirly villain’s mustache would, again, be a bit extreme. Laviolette showed a sense of humor in being the butt of a joke, after all, while some wonder if Hynes favored veterans over younger players in New Jersey.

Still, in a broad, “macro” sense, you could argue that the Predators shifted from a stern to a gentler touch.

Hynes upgrading offense after it wilted under Laviolette?

After hiring Laviolette, Predators GM David Poile (understandably) hyped Laviolette’s “aggressive offensive philosophy.”

Laviolette justified such claims — for a time. After all, a franchise that once spent first-round picks to land Paul Gaustad was now emphasizing offensive acquisitions from Filip Forsberg to Ryan Johansen to Matt Duchene.

Whatever happened along the way — maybe the message faded, perhaps the league passed Laviolette by — the Predators’ offense plummeted. This thread from Micah Blake McCurdy argues that Hynes may improve Nashville’s system, even just by default.

Hynes provides a clean slate for those who fell in Laviolette’s doghouse

Following Sunday’s uglier-than-it-seemed shootout loss to the Ducks (which may have been the final straw for Lavy, depending upon whom you ask), Preds winger Craig Smith implied that Nashville’s system became bogged down by details.

“Sometimes maybe we overthink our system and play a little (lax) and sit back on our heels,” Smith said, via The Tennessean’s Paul Skrbina. “In the third (period Sunday) I think we just said eff it; let’s get after it a little bit. Read and react. Just play hockey, making hockey plays. That’s what we did.”

Could Hynes help them just play hockey? Maybe, maybe not.

In a fascinating discussion of Hynes’ Devils days, CJ Turtoro told On the Forecheck that Hynes’ system could also get too complicated.

Turtoro: One weakness for this particular team seemed to be complexity. As I mentioned, his system aims to create space, but that can create chaos that makes it difficult for players to support one another if they’re not on the same page, or not where they’re supposed to be …

The dream would be for Hynes to boost the Predators’ offense without taking away too much defense. Basically, the fantasy would parallel Craig Berube finding the right mix for the Blues after Mike Yeo leaned too defense-heavy. File that under easier said than done, of course.

Either way, the Predators may simply get a boost from Kyle Turris and others getting a clean slate.

Personally, I get the impression that Turris has paid for past sins. He struggled last season, injuries or not, but there’s compelling evidence that he shouldn’t have been a healthy scratch. Certainly not a frequent one.

Don’t underestimate the power of getting out of the doghouse.

Plenty of work to do

It’s kind of cruel that Hynes is going from one of the worst goalie duos to one of the league’s other terrible tandems.

If nothing else, it’s far more surprising to see Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros struggle that it was to see the Devils’ motley crue produce dismal results. So maybe Hynes can help them achieve more, particularly behind a far, far superior defense than the one he deployed in New Jersey?

Hynes and the Predators don’t have much of a margin for error, so this should be interesting to watch.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Predators name John Hynes new head coach

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John Hynes will be the next head coach of the Predators, replacing Peter Laviolette, who was fired on Monday.

The 44-year-old Hynes spent the last four-and-a-half seasons behind the Devils’ bench, leading them to the playoffs once. He compiled 150-159-45 record and was fired on Dec. 3 following a 9-13-4 start. He’s now only the third head coach in Predators franchise history.

“John Hynes is bright young coach and great leader who has a track record of both effectively developing young players and successfully motivating veterans,” said Predators GM Davie Poile in a statement. “We love his coaching resume and are confident that he has learned from every stop during his career, and has the best skill set to get the maximum potential out of our team.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to join an organization with a history of success, a team with immense talent and a phenomenal fanbase,” said Hynes. “This organization has a strong foundation, from its ownership and executives to the entire front-office staff, and I’m excited to come in and try to maximize this team’s abilities.”

There are a number of connections between Hynes and the Predators, one being Devils GM Ray Shero, who worked as an assistant GM under Poile. Hynes also played with Nashville assistant GM Jeff Kealty at Boston University and worked within USA Hockey with Poile.

Hynes takes over a Predators team that has lost four of their last five, including the Winter Classic collapse. Nashville sits five points out of a Western Conference wild card spot as they host the Bruins Tuesday night.

This is a prime chance for Hynes to lead a turnaround of a team that is performing well despite the results. The Predators have posted positive possession and expected goals numbers (52% Fenwick, 52% xGF, per Natural Stat Trick) and are averaging 3.44 goals per game. What’s been dogging them is poor special teams — 16.8% power play, 74% penalty kill — and goaltending (.916 even strength save percentage). Better goaltending from Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros would be the start of a big turnaround that Poile believes can come from his team.

Every struggling NHL team that fires a head coach midseason is hoping to mimic the Blues from a year ago. Poile bolstered his roster over the summer in hopes of making another run at the Stanley Cup after falling short in 2017. There are 41 games left in their regular season, which means plenty of time to climb out of their hole and fix what’s been ailing them this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Predators fire coach Peter Laviolette

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Peter Laviolette is out as head coach of the Nashville Predators.

The team announced on Monday evening that it has fired their long-time coach just one day after a tough shootout loss in Anaheim.

It also comes less than a week after general manager David Poile said a coaching change was not in his immediate plans. The Predators have yet to announce a replacement. They play tomorrow against the Boston Bruins.

Along with Laviolette, the Predators also fired associate coach Kevin McCarthy.

“Under the leadership of Peter and Kevin, our organization reached unprecedented heights – from our franchise-altering run to the Stanley Cup Final to a Presidents’ Trophy and our first two Central Division titles,” Poile said in a statement released by the team.

“Their passion for the game, ability to motivate a team and drive to be the best makes this a difficult decision. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Peter and Kevin for all their contributions to the Nashville Predators over the past five-and-a-half seasons.”

Laviolette has been with the Predators since the start of the 2014-15 season. They made the playoffs in each of his first five years with the team, winning a Presidents’ Trophy, two division titles, and the 2016-17 Western Conference. They lost the Stanley Cup Final that year to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. The Predators were the third different team he coached to the Stanley Cup Final, joining the Carolina Hurricanes (winners in 2005-06) and Philadelphia Flyers (lost to Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10).

The Predators were 248-143-60 during his time with the team.

He is one of just two head coaches in the Predators’ 21-year existence (Barry Trotz is the other).

The firing comes after a disappointing first half that has the Predators on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. Entering the week they are four points back of the Calgary Flames for the second wild card spot, but do still have the luxury of having four games in hand.

It has been a weird season for the Predators because for as frustrating as it has been, there are still signs they can get back on track. Their 5-on-5 play has been very strong this season, but their special teams and goaltending have both been lousy. Those two factors have sunk them in the standings. If Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros can get back on track (which should improve the PK) things could turn around very quickly for this team in the second half. That is a big if, though.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.